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Film Review - People Vs. Larry Flynt, The
Some people make the mistake of thinking that if you make movie about a person, you are agreeing with that person's way of life. This is not true, and as an illustration, I would point out many of the fine films explaining the life of Adolf Hitler. Most have the point of view that we need to know all about the subject, so we can prevent it from ever happening again.
That said, The People Vs. Larry Flynt is about the life of Flynt, but does leave for the audience the task of deciding for itself if it thinks this man is a hero.
The story begins in Flynt's boyhood. He and his brother have a moonshine still and pull a wagon from house to house selling hooch. From there we find Larry and his brother running the Hustler Club in Cincinnati. They are going broke. Larry makes the first Hustler magazine as an advertisement for the club. The magazine takes off and Flynt Publications is born.
The conflict of Larry Flynt's life is censorship. Many citizen groups and district attorneys try to stop Hustler from being published. The more successful Larry becomes, the more jail time he serves. Larry also can't seem to bend enough to be civil inside a courtroom, which does nothing but increase his jail time.
Through all of this, Flynt's wife, a former stripper in his club, stands by him. During all the jail time, during his time in the hospital after being shot, and when he became a born-again Christian, she stood with him, even if she didn't understand him.
Larry had that same quality towards her. When she contracted AIDS, (she was an IV drug abuser), Larry insisted people in the office treat her as they did before, and he stayed with her to the end.
As balance, it's important that director Milos Forman show you this side of the Flynts, because so much of the movie shows you their seedier side: the orgies, the wife's nude layouts, and Flynt's wild escapades in court.
The finale is Flynt's court fight with Jerry Falwell over a fake ad placed in Hustler magazine. This fight gets down to the heart of the movie. The First Amendment is only needed for unpopular ideas. The idea that everyone agrees with needs no protection, but Larry Flynt's ideas, that are offensive to many, do need to be protected, and it is in the public interest that they be protected.
All in all, I think this film gives us a look at Flynt that is slightly slanted in his favor. His foes are depicted as self-righteous and pompous. We never really see Flynt through their eyes. To them, Larry Flynt must look like the worst White Trash Pervert to walk the earth. We aren't given that balance.
As for believability, the film scores very high. It was hard to decide if Courtney Love is acting or just living her own life. Brett Harrelson playing Flynt's brother adds to a great illusion.